God and Service is Instilled in Crusaders on Veterans Day

Vetereans Day Ceremony 049“The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”- Navy Seals

On Friday, November 10, Cadets from the NJROTC program took part in a special wreath laying ceremony in honor of Brother Martin Alumnus and fallen hero Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan ’86. In recognition of Veterans Day, Fr. Paul Hart celebrated Mass at 7:20 a.m.

The morning began with a Mass in the James B. Branton Chapel with faculty and staff, friends, and family of  Chief Petty Officer Fontan ’86 who was part of the Brother Martin community. He selflessly fought in Afghanistan but was killed while on active duty. He was one of 16 soldiers whose lives were taken at the time of a special military mission.  In his homily, Fr. Hart thanked all of the men and women in the military for their ‘courage and confidence.’ Citing Isaiah in the first reading, he emphasized that these brave men and women are the “anointed” ones, for they sacrifice their lives every day for us.  He continued by stressing that all of these men and women in the military who fight for our freedom fulfill the message in today’s gospel every day: “anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did for me” says the King (Matthew 25:40),again emphasizing the importance of sacrifice.  At Brother Martin, our students  are taught that courage and confidence are necessary for success, and that their lives should be centered around that gospel message of caring for others.

Following Mass, the NJROTC Cadets,  students, and guests congregated outside near Officer Fontan ‘s Flagpole for a special observance of all the brave men and women who serve in the military. Family members of Navy Seal Fontan, his friends, and 1986 classmates attended a ceremony outside where his family placed a wreath at the flagpole in memory of Chief Fontan’s service to our country,  and in memory of his birthday that is also on November 11,  Veterans Day. The Crusader band played “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and NROTC Commander Bruce Nolan ’90 (Ret. USN) spoke on behalf of the school and the Cadets. Commander Nolan addressed the crowd about serving in the military and that Chief Fontan will always be part of the Brother Martin family. Chief Terry Necaise (Ret. USN) also explained to friends and family Jacques‘ ‘Chief’s Box & 219 Helmet’ that was donated to the school by his family. Following the ceremony, a small reception was held in the Meyer Building for family and guests.

About Chief Petty Officer Jacques Fontan ’86:
In 2005, Fontan was killed in action in Afghanistan. He and other special forces were on a rescue mission to save other team members on the ground who had come under heavy enemy fire. As their helicopter approached the landing zone, it was struck by an RPG (rocket propelled grenade), killing all souls on board. Our “Fontan Flagpole” was dedicated in Chief Fontan’s memory, and a plaque has been placed beside it so that we may always be reminded how Brother Martin men make a difference around the world each and every day.

 

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